Article: Āyambil Oḷī

Contributed by M. Whitney Kelting

Āyambil Oḷī refers to both a twice-yearly festival and the fast associated with that festival. The nine-day festival takes place in the spring and autumn and is marked by a fast for the length of the festival. Daily activities are a feature, especially sermons in the autumn Āyambil Oḷī.

Strongly connected with married women, the Āyambil Oḷī festival revolves around the veneration of the siddhacakra and the story of Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī. Jains believe that the fasts and associated rites foster happiness in married life and good health for all the family, particularly regarding preventing and healing skin diseases.

Festival of Āyambil Oḷī

This manuscript painting of a Svetāmbara siddhacakra shows the five highest beings in Jain belief, depicted in different colours. The petals in between contain Sanskrit mantras praising the 'four fundamentals'. It is a visual summary of key Jain doctrines

Image by British Library © CC0 1.0 (Creative Commons Public Domain)

Each year the Āyambil Oḷī festival falls in the spring during Caitra bright 7 to 15 and in the autumn during Aso bright 7 to 15. The autumn festival is celebrated by more people, in part because at that time of year Jain mendicants frequently stay near local communities during the rainy season retreat.

Principal themes of the Āyambil Oḷī festival are marital happiness and the good health of all the family. It focuses on religious practices and goals associated primarily with married women, such as the practice of fasting. Therefore it is almost exclusively married women who take part in and concern themselves with this festival.

The Āyambil Oḷī festival is strongly linked to the narrative of Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī, the worship of the siddhacakra yantra and the recitation of the Navkar-mantra. Sermons on each of these elements are characteristic of the festival, particularly in the autumn.

Sermons on the siddhacakra

The siddhacakra yantra is a symbolic representation of the nine things worthy of worship in the Jain tradition. Each of the nine days of the festival is strongly related to one of the nine points on the siddhacakra. Mendicants often structure their sermons to reflect on the particular part of the siddhacakra being venerated on that day. For example, the first position is Arhat – the enlightened ones – and the sermon on that day might focus on the nature of the arhats.

Sermons on the Navkar-mantra

The siddhacakra is the visual form of the Navkar-mantra. Most Jains recite this mantra daily and it is considered a key Jain religious practice. If there is a mendicant in residence, he will give a daily sermon about the power of the Navkar-mantra and retell the Śrīpāḷ and Mayṇāsundarī story.

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Related Manuscripts

Related Manuscript Images

  • Siddhacakra


    British Library. Or. 13622. Vinaya-vijaya and Yaśo-vijaya. 17th to 18th centuries

  • Double homage and preaching

    Double homage and preaching

    British Library. Or. 13622. Vinaya-vijaya and Yaśo-vijaya. 17th to 18th centuries - All text is © JAINpedia / Institute of Jainology 2021 under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence The Jain universe online at

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